Construction Project Timelines - 2023

What does 2023 have in store for Homeowners, Contractors, and the Construction Industry? As a Design/Build Firm with decades of experience designing, building and remodeling homes in the Pacific Northwest we have navigated some wild changes and crazy trends over the years. Here we discuss how construction timelines have changed and how that impacts Contractors and Homeowners alike.

With quite a bit of momentum carrying us all into the new year we find ourselves learning and adapting like a seasoned boxer, improv comedian, or jam band guitarist. A year ago we were thinking things might be on their way to normalizing and in some sense they actually are. Though, it looks like keeping on our toes is part of that new normal.

New Normal for Construction Project Timelines

Changes to permitting & planning, supply chains, and the skilled construction workforce being stretched thin, the timelines of individual projects are heavily impacted. Whether it’s a bathroom remodel or a new home build, the new normal timeline can be nearly double what it was in 2019.

Every year the National Association of Home Builders hosts an Industry convention in Las Vegas called the International Builders Show. Every year, as part of the IBS conference the NAHB coordinates the new construction of a state of the art tour home called The New American Home to apply and showcase “best practices, innovative design concepts, state-of-the-art products and the latest construction techniques” [they also do a yearly remodel show home called The New American Remodel]. Even with the pressures of being such a high-profile exhibition, the issues facing the industry have made it extremely difficult to have TNAH 2023 ready by the event: Jan 31 – Feb 2.

Luxus Design Build was tasked with building the The New American Home 2023, which is shaping up to be one amazing home, despite all the challenges. Michael Gardner, Lead Architect of the project, has this to say about the challenges facing the project and the state of the industry in 2023: “It’s now gotten to the point where it seems like we’re more of a logistics company than a construction company. But it’s not just a challenge for The New American Home; it’s the same for all of our other projects, too. And I know most other builders are dealing with the same struggles — it’s just a reflection of where we’re at as an industry.” Read more from the Project Update.

Changes to Floodplain Development Codes in Lane County

This Summer we saw significant Amendments to Lane County’s Floodplain Development Code as required by FEMA and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) to maintain membership in the National Flood Insurance Program and ensure future compliance.

With very little warning in August of 2022 and again in January of 2023 the City of Eugene issued extensive amendments to city codes to meet current Floodplain development standards. It turns out that FEMA issued a Letter of Final Determination in March of 2022 and a new Floodplain Insurance Rate Map for the entire US. It would appear that the entire US has been remapped to adapt to changes in climate and geography.

According to the City of Eugene’s website these updated codes affect: “All annexed and unannexed properties located, completely or partially, in a special flood hazard area within the City of Eugene’s Urban Growth Boundary will be impacted by these code amendments. The unannexed lands require joint participation with Lane County for this process.”

It turns out that many hundreds municipalities across the US that reside in floodplains had to scramble to adapt their zoning standards to what FEMA issued in March 2022. If you were working on a construction project during this period that fell in one of these floodplains, it is very likely that you experienced delays and/or had problems getting permits while cities and counties struggled to create and issue new standards.

Volatility for Project Timelines

No matter your background, you’ve undoubtedly leaned a bit about supply chains and how a disruption can devastate processes to the point that the ripples can continue for years. Understanding that supply chains are not entirely reliable yet it helps illustrate a core reason why it’s important to prepare with contingencies and to know that patience is your ally.

Planning and Zoning Departments have to issue updates to their codes all the time. What made the above listed updates of codes & standards such an ongoing nightmare is that every one of these agencies is still in the process of recovering and adapting to the new way of doing things, often short staffed and training/retraining new personnel, when all of this was rolled out. What was once a well oiled machine with a million moving parts that could adapt to anything you threw at it, now experiences ripples with every update.

What Homeowners Can Do

As you prepare to take on your Remodel, Home Addition, or New Home Build project, the best advice you will get from any Industry professional will be to plan, prepare, decide, and map out as much of your project ahead of time as you can. From there it will be best to balance as much patience as you can muster with clear, regular communication wit your Contractors & Project Manager.

Knowing that there is still volatility throughout the Construction Industry, it is best to picture your project as a small scale multi-facetted Supply Chain itself. To view your project in this way helps illustrate how delays and disruptions cause bottlenecking, traffic jams, creating delays. For as frustrating as these drastically extended timelines are for Clients, there are hundreds of Designers, Contractors, Vendors, and Manufacturers pushing to deliver quality new and remodeled homes in a reasonable timeframe.

John Webb Construction & Design PDX: https://johnwebbs.com/

Written by Todd Zimmerman

Producer of the John Webbccast